Mamelodi is a township located to the north-east of Pretoria, the de facto capital of South Africa and primary city of Gauteng Province. Established in 1945 under the apartheid government, Mamelodi was a “blacks-only” settlement until the fall of the regime in 1994. Even today, it is home to a predominantly black community.
Mamelodi is a growing town, and a woefully overburdened one. As people migrate in from rural parts in search of work and a better life, increasing pressure is placed on the area's inadequate resouces and infrastructure.
Overstretched and under-resourced
Although there are a number of properly developed houses in Mamelodi, most residents inhabit improvised shacks constructed out of discarded or cheaply bought materials such as plastic and corrugated iron. Amenities such as running are shared, and it is not uncommon for many families to share a single water source.
Efforts by government to elevate living standards in the area through grant schemes designed to finance decent housing have been thwarted by the extremity of the situation in Mamelodi. Overcrowding and population growth are so severe that it is impossible to match demand.
Growing up before time
Matters have been made worse by the HIV/AIDS epidemic which has affected the whole country. With healthcare severely limited, parents are often so ill that they cannot provide the love and support their children need.
In so many of these cases, the older brother or sister is forced to grow up before their time and become the chief breadwinner. Not only do these children lose out on their childhood, but their education as well - often their one means of escaping a life of hardship.
Other children end up living with grandparents, and it can often be a huge strain for this older generation to care for an entire family. Yet more find themselves alone when parents die or move away in search of employment opportunities, and often forced to look after themselves to survive.
What SOS Children does in Mamelodi
We have worked in Mamelodi since 1987, seven years before apartheid ended. Throughout South Africa, our Children's Villages provide a home for children who can no longer grow up with their families - and Mamelodi is no different. Lone children can find a new home with an SOS family and a loving SOS mother. SOS families grow together with vulnerable children from the local community, beginning education together at our SOS nursery.
As children from our Village approach independence, they enjoy full support as they journey towards their chosen career with vocational training. Our youth programme not only provides them with the training they need to succeed, but also essential preparation for the very different world of adult life.
Helping the whole community
A major part of our work today involves helping vulnerable families in the community care for their children.
Early childhood is so important if the next generation is to escape hardship. That's why we make sure children from overstretched families get a good education. We tailor our support to individual needs – we might help by paying tuition fees, providing school equipment or uniforms.
Healthcare too is vital. Malnutrition can severely impact on a child's development, and their ability to succeed at school. Nothing affects concentration like an empty stomach. Children throughout the community benefit from the healthcare we offer - vaccinations protect them from deadly but preventable disease, while treatment helps them overcome infection.
HIV/AIDS is a key focus of our work in Mamelodi; an area where infection rates are particularly high. Not only do we help affected families get back on their feet through treatment and ongoing support, we also perform vital awareness and prevention work to help reduce future infection rates. Simple advice and easy measures can provide real protection against a disease which can be devastating to a family which can't afford the right treatment.
For parents, we also provide essential skills training so they can take up new and sustainable careers. Courses on IT, dressmaking and a host of other professions equip families for the jobs market in an area where skills are scarce due to limited education.
Supporters like you help families in Mamelodi rebuild their community. We support people on the road to self-sufficiency, creating a better environment for the next generation. Please help by sponsoring a child.